Bayswater Rail Story
The idea of building a railway line from Fremantle Port to the colony’s eastern districts was first floated in 1870. The idea took about five years to be ‘accepted’ and then a battle broke out about whether the railway line should be built north or south of the Swan River. The northern route won in the end and the line was completed in 1881- having taken just two years to build. (Refer to Picture of the Railway Workers 1898-1906)
The Fremantle to Midland line put Bayswater within striking distance of Perth. Whereas it would take a few hours to walk from Bayswater to Perth, the train trip took just twenty minutes!
Bayswater was small and isolated in its early days but by the mid-19890s its small population united an indignation over the deficiencies of the new railway line. Bayswater had no railway siding – consequently, no large or bulky goods – including materials for building houses – could not be unloaded here. The first train of the day also reached Perth by 9am – way too late to be used by workmen.
The railway line was duplicated in 1896, primarily to cater for the enormous volumes of traffic generated from the goldfields, and the construction of a proper railway station, with siding and a goods yard soon followed. This development stimulated population growth, with newcomers to Bayswater including skilled tradesmen who worked outside the district.
Bayswater train station was a Class 6 station, making it larger thanks average, and in 1917 it employed eight permanent staff. Their job was to supervise train movements and deal with the traffic of goods and people. (Refer to photo railway staff William Williams stations master 1897-1906).
The WA Government Railways in Midland was a key employer for Bayswater residents, with the 1921 Census recording 59 residents worked there. Their jobs included carriage builders, boiler makers, welders, painters and canvas makers.
In WWI, trainloads of soldiers on their way between Perth and Blackboy Camp in the hills were a common sight.
May, Catherine, Changes They’ve Seen, City of Bayswater 2013